County applies for grant for active-shooter kits

While most people want to believe an active-shooter incident would never happen in the Columbus area, Bartholomew County commissioner Larry Kleinhenz said the fact remains that it could.

And if such an outbreak of violence did erupt, law enforcement must provide the most rapid response with the least possible risk, Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Capt. Brandon Slate said.

That’s why the commissioners have unanimously agreed to endorse a grant request that, if approved, would provide 60 active-shooter kits to sheriff’s deputies, which consist of:

  • A quick deployment bag (including items such as first-aid trauma supplies, flex-cuffs, water and spare pistol magazines)
  • A specialized bulletproof attack vest
  • A ballistic helmet

If the Indiana Department of Homeland Security agrees to provide $91,802, the kits would be distributed to all Bartholomew County merit and reserve deputies, as well as all courthouse security and jail transport personnel, Slate said.

During an active-shooter situation, such gear needs to be available to law enforcement personnel at a moment’s notice, Slate said.

“Just having 15 or 20 of them sitting back at headquarters does no good,” Slate said. “It needs to be immediately accessible.”

Town marshals in smaller Bartholomew County communities were advised the grant money was being sought but declined the opportunity to request such equipment, Bartholomew County Emergency Preparedness Director Shannan Hinton said.

While the Columbus Police Department has utilized specialized ballistic vests and helmets for more than 20 years, the equipment is distributed only to SWAT team members, city police department spokesman Lt. Matt Harris said.

Earlier this year, the SWAT officers received new ballistic vests, helmets and communications gear, Harris said.

“This extra protection is essential since these officers are tasked with handling calls beyond the scope of a patrol officer,” Harris said.

The decision to seek Homeland Security funding for the equipment is not in response to the 49 people killed in Orlando earlier this month but rather was made after the terrorist attack in San Bernadino, California, in December, Kleinhenz said.

The county will learn whether it will receive the grant money in August, Hinton said.

Meanwhile, Bartholomew County officials also have unveiled a plan to replace all 800 megahertz radios used by first responders during the next four years.

If federal funding can be obtained, the county will spend $316,044 during the first year of a four-year update plan for firefighters, Hinton said.

Later, radios will be obtained for law enforcement, animal control, town marshals, paramedics and emergency management personnel.

The request includes the 110 high-tech radios that Sheriff Matt Myers announced in May that his department would be seeking.

By the time all radios are replaced, the total investment will be about $3.2 million, Hinton said.

“It’s a pretty large request, considering what’s available through the state,” she told the commissioners.

But since repair parts for all the current radios, which are all more than 10 years old, will become unavailable over the next two years, Kleinhenz agreed a complete replacement will be necessary.

What you can do

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has developed an independent study course, “Active Shooter: What You Can Do.”

This course was developed to provide the public with guidance on how to prepare for and respond to active-shooter crisis situations.

Upon completion of Active Shooter: What You Can Do, employees and managers will be able to:

  • Describe the actions to take when confronted with an active shooter and to assist responding law enforcement officials.
  • Recognize potential workplace violence indicators.
  • Describe actions to take to prevent and prepare for potential active-shooter incidents.
  • Describe how to manage the consequences of an active-shooter incident.

The online training is available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency Emergency Management Institute.

Author photo
Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.